I started cycling during my PhD, initially using it as a quick way to get to the lab without being reliant on public transport, and I now love cycling to work. It’s cheaper than public transport, and you’re not subject to delays with traffic or late buses; you always know how long it will take you to get somewhere. Not to mention you can avoid being sneezed on! I’ve noticed I’m much less likely to come down with a cold now that I’m cycling, unlike the days when I worked in London, squashed onto a train and then the tube.
Cycling at UofG…
The Glasgow cycling scene has improved over the last few years and there are a number of fantastic cycling initiatives, particularly on and around the UofG main and Garscube campuses. The University has a dedicated cycling webpage, where you can find information on bike parking facilities, and showers on campus. There are also several bicycle repair stations on campus, and an emergency repair kit available from the Main Gate. You can even buy spare inner tubes from a vending machine inside the Stevenson building. Central Services at the Main Gate House are also able to do bike security marking (BikeRegister) for free at any time.
Glasgow Bike Station are just 10 minutes from campus, and is a great place to pick up a second hand bike, or learn how to keep brakes and gears running. If that’s not enough, they also bring themselves to campus every month for a mobile Dr Bike servicing session (last one of the financial year is tomorrow!)
Although we don’t have the separate cycle lanes of the Netherlands just yet, I’ve noticed that Glasgow has gained more bike lanes, more cyclists, and a greater awareness from drivers. Sometimes it’s pedestrians you need to be most wary of, particularly on Byres Road, where people can be prone to opening car doors or walking out from between cars. Protective gear is also important. I have reflective strips on my backpack, a bright yellow jacket and helmet to keep me safe, especially in the winter when it’s dark. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of icy days in Glasgow, so you can pretty much keep cycling all year round, as long as you have good waterproofs!
You can pick up a cycle map from the University’s travel co-ordinator to check out routes around town, or join the Bicycle User Facebook page to get some route suggestions. There are sneaky routes in from the south side, for example, which avoid some of the nastier pinch points for the traffic. There are also some good Sustrans cycle paths, as well as the canal and the Kelvin Walkway, which links the main campus with Garscube.
I got my first bike to cycle to my PhD but, along with another PhD student in my lab, I started using it to explore Scotland. Since then, I’ve cycled round some of the most beautiful islands and remote villages and seen a different side to the country. The Isle of Arran, with its hills, glens, beaches and distillery, is often known as Scotland in miniature. A trip round the island by bike has got to be on the list for top day trips from Glasgow. You can get the train to Ardrossan then hop on the Calmac ferry over to Brodick (bikes go free and you don’t need to book in advance). 60 hilly miles is a long way but there are lots of nice cafes to fuel you on the way round.
Get on your bike
Want to start cycling, but unsure where to start? Try out the Next Bikes. You can hire the bikes for a £30 annual subscription fee, though UofG staff and students can access them for free!
If you cycle and have any hints or tips you’d like to share, drop us a line in the comments below or tweet @UofG_PGRblog.